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From:  Stefan Woehrmann
Date:  Mon Jun 26, 2000  3:55 pm
Subject:  Re: SignWriting can inspire speech....

----- Original Message -----
From: Nancy Cole
Sent: Monday, June 26, 2000 12:14 AM
Subject: Re: SignWriting can inspire speech....

Hello Nancy,

thanks a lot for your reply!

> Wow, great answer! That I would expect since I have read many of your

"That " ... ? Do you focus on my admission that I am dealing day by day with
all these problems that are connected with teaching deaf students in a
hearing world that doesnīt care to much about the comunicative skills of
these humans? When they start school they have already lost - compared to
their hearing class-mates (in the parallel classes for the hh or hearing
students. Well some of them are lucky to be born in an all deaf family -
that helps a lot to develop quite normal comunication skills, knowledge
about the world, knowledge about concepts of time, social behavior, all
kinds of names, the ability to comunicate the own thoughts, questions - the
idea of interpersonal exchange and the concept of language as a tool for
Now it doesnīt matter which second language can be learned because there is
already a strong foundation.

> From what I know is that English is the hardest most difficult language
> learn.

HHmmm ? Iīm afraid that many people wouldnīt think so. I guess that the
Linguists should be able to offer any kind of structure to discuss the
question of "hard to learn languages"
As it looks like - German seems to be one of these languages for many deaf
students because of the gender and the grammar. For somebody who is familiar
with a language it is quite impossible to figure out, how complicated it can
be!! But here we are again with SW.
Writing down the sign for "I " it is possible to use is in the first case
(Nominativ) = Ich, third case (Dativ) = mir and fourth case (Akkusativ) =
It depends on the verb, it depends on the whole sentence. When the students
of the 7 th grade realized the first time that a special "movement-writing"
;-) SW-Gestalt could be translated in several ways but has to be checked
first ... wow that has been a litte breakthrough !!! And it seems so
confusing that you have to combine several verbs with the Dativ and others
with the Akkusativ. Same thing happens if you try to report about past
events - haben oder sein ? And compared to SL there are so many substantial
differences .. The longer I teach German to deaf students the more I get a
feeling for their achievements if they become skilled to formulate more and
more sentences without too much trouble.

As a Deaf individual, yes I would have to agree. I have seen my
> friends who are Deaf live in Mexico and can speak Spanish very well. One
> my friends told me that Spanish was easier to see on the lips.

Yes let us start this new field of discussion. Lets discuss the myth of
lipreading. You canīt support little deaf kids more if you explain to them
honestly that you are able to understand only from lipreading only under
special circumstances:

- You know the person you are watching pretty well
- You know the issue he is talking about
- The words and phrases are well -trained and this kind of lipreading
exercise has happened under these conditions pretty often ( e.g. If I simply
say the names of my students; if I say "good morning; " What is the date of
today? Where is the blue car ? How many eggs are in the basket ? Can you
please clean the black-board, Can you spell your name please ? -- All these
kinds of small exercises are no problem to understand just from lipreading.
There is a study that you can analyze from lipreading almost 30 % what is
said. So it is up to the deaf who is left to his own resources to develop a
set of tactical - tools in order to understand as much as possible. I donīt
want to deny that there might be tallented specialists in lipreading who
achieve in an outstanding manner. Iīm talking about the every day situation.
Lipreading is possible at all in a satisfying relaxed way ? Some teacher
proclaim that and concentrate on oral - aural education.

But there is a big big big problem. As soon as you talk about a different,
complicated, unknown subject. As soon as you try to ask during this report a
question, as soon as there are other people who interrupt or add their own
comments, as soon as you are somewhat nervous, excited, tired - as soon as
it takes several minutes up to an hour ... and and and
Understanding from lipreading - no chance ! Forget about that ! But - and
here it comes - being told all the time that there are deaf people who are
able to understand from lipreading , deaf children as well as deaf adults
are unsecure, feel ashamed or jut donīt speak up- It is a lie ! And Iīm not
the one who is going to confront deaf students any more with this problem.
Long time ago we had some fun to check the lipreading abilities of several
deaf students. We concentrated on very few sentences - and every time we got
to the same result -Youīd better combine it with kind of cued Speech , or
exact German signing ;-)

There have been tooo many experiences within this field. Oh - have you seen
these movies - deaf actor/deaf actress so brilliant in lipreading with
hearing people that you wouldnīt believe that he/she is deaf ? But as a
layman you are told that this is a special talent of deaf people -
And the poor little students who experience the contrary if the special
situation isnīt at hand? They develop a additional statement of being not
good enough - but they donīt discuss it !
So I am very very interested if there is any deaf on the list who feels
motivated to comment on this.

(...) and when I was 16
> years old my father told me I didn't have to learn it anymore!

Yes - that is my experience as well. Seems to be a critical age to accept
that the parents dreams of a perfect lipreading, comunicating, speaking ,
well informed child - that is not tooooo far away from our hearing world
will come true.
Finally they have to accept that their child is deaf. Finally they get new
possibilities to watch deafness from another point of view. Some of them
evon get sensitive to the need of relaxed comunication, friendship among
deaf classmates, limitations for deaf in this world that - at least in
Germany - hasnīt evon accepted the natural way of comunication DGS as an
acceptable and worthwhile language. (Hopefully this will be changed this
autumn ? )

I think he
> expected me to continue on my own haha or he was just so fustrated in
> teaching me! I think many hearing parents do not understand the
> in saying words like "cake" and actually having it sound like cake ha! My
> husband can say Pepsi so clear (also the dirty words!), so I guess that is
> what I call our survival words:)

Yes some deaf people are able to articulate pretty well - and can comunicate
with hearing people pretty good.
I experienced a kind of "league" among the deaf. Being told from their
teachers how wonderfull they perform they sometimes develop a feeling of
superiority . Have you heard about Helen - Keller jokes ?

But if kids are willing to try, I'd say
> "great"! My students have speech therapy too, and I try to be encouraging
> with their voice. Also, I try to get them to go out in the real world
> and I emphasize writing at that time, since hearing people tend to
> misunderstand speech.

Whenever hearing people visit our class I encourage my students to
"interview" our visitors. (age, hobby, profession, family - background,
car, motivation to visit us ... ) We developed a set of questions that is
pretty impressive. Now we realize that some of our visitors become helpless
because they are unable to understand the spoken language. It is now the
students task to write down his question and to experience that he is clever
enough to get through ... Yes it works.
On the other hand - we practice again and again - lipreading in these
situations. (The background is well known - it is an answer to my question )
The pupils exercise to ask back - I understood this and that - did you say
that ??
So this way they become sensitive to the limitations and importance of
lipreading !

> But I'm German easier to learn lip reading than English?

Is it possible at all - as I discussed it above ?

All the best to you and keep going to inform us about your world ;-)

Stefan ;-)

SW is simply great ;-)

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